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The notion of man in the Egyptian society
"Si El Sayed"

By Dalia El Kady

"Si- El sayed" is a brief description of the Egyptian man. Of course, you are now wondering what does it mean?! "Si" is a colloquial form of address means "Mr.", or something like that. While, "El sayed is an Egyptian name. "Si El sayed" is one of Naguib Mahfouz's famous characters through which he managed to embody the characteristics of the Egyptian man at that time. He surrounded him with an aura of respect, glory & reverence, that what man used to be. As a husband, he was a decision-maker & as a father, he was a god-like figure. He was convinced that just his title "the man of the house" i.e. the one responsible for the family assumes his absolute authority & blind obedience in return. The husband - wife relationship was based on suppression on his part & mere surrender on her's. He orders & she submits. Although, Mahfouz wrote wrote this novel long ago, influenced by the social conditions prevailing at that time, & inspite of the fact that such conditions have been changed as a result of the major shift in social norms, the novel still represents the real character of the Egyptian man even after being polished by claimed modernity.


Though, we are on the threshold of the 20th century, with women holding the banner of gender equality & emancipation, standing on equal footing with men in leaderships & improving their social status day after day, however man is still living in the delusion that women are intellectually inferior, dependant, vulnerable & unable to take wise decisions. Consequently, he assumes certain rights he is not entitled to & imposes his own will on behalf of her. He is always trying hard to confine her role to the utmost extent. Hence, on one hand women are willingly working to promote their status in the Egyptian society. While, on the other hand men are exerting their extreme efforts "behind the curtains" to degrade that status.

So, if the Egyptian man apparently seems to accept the fait accompli of the new Egyptian woman, his manhood still rejects such fact. The old "Si El Sayed" rebels every now & then to announce his existence & to say, "I am still there".

And, if you ask me why men are behaving like that ?! I'll say that "just because they are Egyptians" they have to cope with the implications of the word, no less, no more.

Other articles by Dalia El Kady


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